Prep Tips for International Travel

Travel Tips Hanging Sign Agency Advice Helpful InformationThere are few things you can do to enhance your perspective and appreciation for life more than traveling.  Along with the fun and adventure that comes with traveling there are a lot of unknowns that can make taking the leap to international travel a bit overwhelming.  These risks seem exponentially more frightful when you consider traveling as a family, as kids have their own set of variables that makes traveling seem like a no go.  The good news is there are some things that can increase the likelihood of making the first part of your trip easy sailing.

Choose your seats wisely: Eight plus hours in a condensed space is one of the things that nightmares are made of.  The plane offers limited places to go, limited options to move around, and limited choices in deciding who surrounds you.  You can be a bit proactive, however in choosing your seats.  Even in economy some seats are just meant to be more comfortable than others.  Check out seats at the front of a section for special accommodations such as baby bassinets or extra leg room.  These features are offered to you without upgrading services but usually require early purchase to lock and secure.  By taking a look at the seat map you can set your strategy for what features work best for you.  Don’t let fate choose for you and end up with a seat that gives you the short end of the stick.

Fill in the blanks: Even the best planned trip has some gaps that are unavoidable. Maybe it is your connection time between flights or the time between when you arrive and when you can actually check into your hotel but those breaks exist.  If you cannot avoid them you should consider them.  If you have a layover to change flights, knowing the layout of the airport can help whether you can just know a direction for your connecting flight for a quick transition or what they have to do or eat in the airport if you have a longer layover.  This information is especially helpful when you have to go through customs in between.  For good planning for my arrival I like to notify the hotel of my arrival time as well as to check out what is around the airport that is open when I will get there.  You may have several hours to kill between landing and the official check in time for the hotel and after an already uncomfortable flight sitting in the lobby for hours is probably not your first choice.

Money Exchange: Even in this day and age where credit is usually king there are times where having some cash is a big bonus.  You can get stiffed if you are not aware of the exchange rate as convenience in exchanging money usually comes at a high cost.  Take some time to look up the exchange rate so you can know a good deal when you see one (this good rate is usually not found at the airport exchanges).  This is especially true for transportation such as cabs as you are taking a gamble assuming they will take a credit card and if there is not a big surcharge for using credit.   Also check with your bank as pulling cash from an ATM or using your card for purchases can get you the exchange rate without an high fee to do so.

Pre-plan transportation: Every country and city is different and so is there transportation options.  Not knowing what options you have can leave you paying twice as much or without many options at all.  Your hotel should have some quick information for how to get to them so it is a great place to start.  If you are a bit more adventurous the public transportation options in many cities abound, just be careful on times of operation.  Finally riding in style may not be as high of a cost as you think.  When you take the time to research limo services often they are comparable to that of a cab without the hassle of waiting in line and hoping you are not being taken for a ride (literally and figuratively).

Don’t assume the same phone or data access.  At home everything is at the touch of a finger as if you don’t know you can always Google it.  Once you land someplace else those rules changes as you may either not have access or it may come at a pretty high cost.  Many major airports have free Wi-Fi but if you are not sure then check.  Also makes sure to explore the international cell phone options your provider has so you are not hit with an enormous bill on your return.  Also write down a couple of important facts like hotel number and address someplace you can access them regardless of your service in case something comes up.  Having email confirmations are good, but you may need to know hotel address or phone number even when you cannot access the internet like in filling out your customs paperwork.

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